My boss was an oversized hothead who liked to yell and fight. He also owned the company. When I arrived at work early in the morning the first thing I was told was that I wasn’t worth shit and I better get to work or else. “We got number 3 loaded and you’ll have to take it up to Marathon Key, you better be there by seven.”
For a nineteen year old living in the Florida Keys fear was probably the best motivator.
Loading the truck was easy, use the jitney to lift the pallets onto the truck. This day 3 pallets loaded with 50 pound bags of concrete. I’d have to unload them by hand. Mr X had that truck loaded by 4am. He made sure to load the pallets as close to the cab as possible, he did have a sense of humor.
The truck in the photo above is in better shape than the truck I had to drive. Later I fried the clutch.
I grind the gears to find first. Mr X looks at me like it’s my last day on Earth. Jerking out of the driveway, I’m on the road. US1 A1A straight up to Marathon Key. I was coming from Summerland. Summerland Key is a small key between Big Pine and Cudjoe about 20 miles southwest of Marathon.
Getting up to speed was the longest part of the drive. The bridges were narrow. This story takes place before the upgrades. With the windows rolled down, AM radio loud, the smell of rotting seaweed flowing into the cab I was cruising at a steady 45mph. A couple of slow downs were enough to remind me of the weight I carried. It was early, traffic was sparse but it didn’t make the bridges any easier. While on the bridge the lane offered little room for a truck. If another truck happened to enter the opposite end. You had to make a choice either hug the railing and risk scraping or try to stay centered and risk slapping mirrors with the other truck. That’s another story.
I reached the 7 mile bridge and my stomach tightened up. The ocean was on my right and the gulf on my left. I rolled on and after about 5 minutes a car was parked in the lane. I slowed down and came to a stop behind it. There was a man passed out in the car. You get kind of used to seeing the unusual here. I knocked on the window a couple of times and no response. Cars started to back up. Someone with a CB radio made a connection with the highway patrol. The police prowler pushed its way through the small crowd of tourists, workers and fishermen. All parked and having a bit of a chat while the scene was sorted out. One officer checked on the driver the other started to move the small party of impromptu friends to their vehicles.
“He’s alive just passed out.” The officer in charge of the car stated loudly.
Good to know.
The cars pulled away. We all returned to our normal programming. I ground the gears and started to move. I arrived at the job site around 7:30 knowing that I’d hear about it. No one was there. A moment of luck. I started to unload and others arrived. The truck unloaded, by hand, I headed back to the shop.